Like many designers in the mid 20th century, Børge Mogensen (1914-1972) was an idealist and was focused on creating furniture that would not only stand the test of time in terms of quality but also inspire to design a home in a sensible and tasteful manner. His work was driven by social concerns, solving problems in residential living spaces with his studies in human proportions.
La silla Eames de fibra de vidrio, tiene el estilo y la versatilidad que estaba buscando para mi comedor con mis 2 pequeños comensales.
The Eames fiberglass chair has the style and versatility I was looking for in my dining room with my 2 little dinner guests.
Here at The Empty Apartment authenticity and proper documentation is what we strive for the most. No easy task when we are working with design pieces that were created more than 50 years ago and created for the purpose of everyday use. Here are some tips for finding documentation to preserve the historicity of your collectible piece.
Designed in 1958 by Swedish architect and designer Kerstin Horlin Holmquist for the department store NK and their Triva furniture line, the Paradise Collection is a crossroads between traditional Swedish design and Scandinavian modern inspired in one of the most popular stories in the Bible.
A couple highlights from my visit to this year’s 3 Days of Design in Copenhagen, Denmark.
“It is very important to take into account the way a chair’s appearance combines with the person who sits in it. Some chairs look like crutches. And I don't like them at all.” - Nanna Ditzel
Nanna Ditzel has been called by many the Queen of Danish Design, she was passionate about her craft and her designs stood out among her male contemporaries. Read more about her life and find out what makes her work so special.
A few highlights from this year's visit to the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair.
Timeless clean lines, textiles in neutral tones such as pine green and wall colors in Red Ochre and Prussian blue were seen throughout. Japanese influences are strong in Loic Bard's wooden pieces. Sigurd Ressell's Falcon chair gets a make over for today's production. Luca Nichetto's new chair for Fogia has an incredible craftsmanship and quality upholstery. Details in leather and cane are all time favorites. Norven's children's furniture grows with children giving sustainability a new meaning. Källemo chairs by Mats Theselius are my all time favorite in cognac leather. Other favorite booths were by Established & Sons, & tradition, Menu and Frama.
I arrived by the end of Stockholm Design Week to catch the last day of "A Quiet Reflection" a curated exhibition hosted by My Residence bookazine which also coincided with the launch of My Residence bookazine Issue 2.
The exhibition, located in the former Mexican Embassy in Östermalm featured an interior design by Annaleena Leino, a Swedish interior stylist and designer, in collaboration with Japanese furniture manufacturer Ariake. Other carefully selected design items on display included furniture by Norm Architects, Westberg Lighting, Staffan Holm Studio furniture, accessories by Frama/ Dry Studios and design objects by Jenny Nordberg.
I caught the exhibition at night which made the space cozy and seductive with its dim lighting. A quiet reflection it was as I walked through the unfinished architectural space. The walls were untreated and floorboards unfinished. The design pieces worked well in the rustic space, the majority were made of natural materials dark or lightly stained woods, ceramics in neutral colors, cement pedestals and black steel.
See more images (daytime images) for the event on the Residence Magazine website here
A feature from Dezeen.com can be found here
Christmas, it's seriously right around the corner. The smell of cider and apple pie, the scent of advent candles and wreaths. Quality time with family. Comfort & warmth, everything silver & gold. Whichever way you celebrate Christmas, this holiday is marked by many with a slowed-down, switched-off lifestyle. Hopefully, your work emails go unread, your social feeds take a break, you lay off the Instagram-a-thon and FB posts. It’s time to disconnect, slow down and hopefully recharge.
The Danish have a word ‘hygge’ that's pretty awesome to reflect on in this state of being. Pronounced hue-guh, this slight verbal entity carries a lot of weight. Hygge captures this feeling of coziness, contentment and a comfortable vibe of well-being that comes with the simple things in life, like love, laughter and a glass of wine. The Dutch also have a word - gezellig - that captures similar sentiments in the Netherlands. It translates to quality and comfort.
Denmark Christmas Traditions
I've never spent Christmas in Denmark and I was recently told that it was a must-see, so I looked into how the Danes do it. Here are some items and traditions that I found. I think I can get into the Danish spirit from afar with a little Christmas hygge of my own.
The Advent Wreath - the advent wreath symbolizes the holidays in Denmark. Four candles sit atop the wreath, marking four Sundays until December 24th. Made with sprigs, berries, cones, and ribbons, the wreath is a wonderful holiday tradition.
The Advent Candle - here’s another Danish tradition to mark down the days until Christmas. The candle has 24 markings on it, signifying the length of the candle to burn one day at a time. Every night at supper, families light the candle for the one day marked. Children often blow out the candle before it reaches the next date.
Christmas decorations - The Danish national colors of red and white highlight the home decorations in festive ways. The Danish Christmas tree stands above all, majestic in its history and with items like tinsel, garland, paper hearts and twinkling lights adorning it.
Strong drinks - For the unprepared, the mulled Christmas wine or the strong Danish beers might be the right addition to a Danish Christmas. Warm liquor on a cold winter night in Denmark will certainly be needed!
Hygge as Lifestyle
An article in The New Yorker notes that hygge is synonymous with winter in Denmark, and with it is the necessities of candles, wooly slippers, soft blankets, a hot fire, and contented feelings. I think Hygge can also be in the Summertime, basking under the sun with your feet in the river off a dock with a glass of wine. Hygge has transcended mere feelings of Christmas comfort to become a lifestyle term and the Danes know how to do it well!
I won't be back in Scandinavia until 2018 but I have my holiday wreath of eucalyptus, pine, and pampas grass from House of Lilac up on my door and am planning some cozy candlelit dinner parties with friends before the year is over. Gearing up for 2018!
Alvar Aalto was a master of Modernist architecture, well known for his embodiment of the International Style during the 1930s. Born in Finland in 1898, Aalto is known today for his clean lines, use of indigenous material, and humanistic sensibility. He brought a feeling of comfort and warmth to Modernist design, which had been criticized for its starkness and hard, unwelcoming lines.
In his architecture practice, Aalto developed a strong personal style early in his career. His expressive designs were known for integrating the regional environment into his clean, white designs through the use of warm natural woods, skylights, and organic, undulating contemporary forms. Alvar Aalto was celebrated for his attention to detail, and ability to integrate the building into the natural setting. He also brought a Humanist outlook into the design, so that his buildings have an organic and engaging feeling that is inviting and comfortable. Some of his most significant buildings are the Baker House at M.I.T., Paimio Sanatorium in Paimio, Finland, and Stephanuskirche in Wolfsburg, Germany. Alvar Aalto exemplifies 20th Century Scandinavian design through his 200-plus projects.
In addition to his architectural career, Alvar Aalto created some of the most iconic designs in interior decorating. Aalto experimented with innovations like the use of bent plywood in furniture design, and he was the first to make use of the cantilever in chair designs. He also designed lighting and decorative accents like the classic Savoy vase, which is still popular in home decor. The Savoy vase is an organically-shaped, simple form that echos the shapes found in flowers, branches, and leaves.
The elegant 60 stool is a familiar form that most of us have seen, perhaps without even knowing that it was designed by a Finnish architect in 1932. The 60 stool has a versatile design with three legs and a round seat. This stunning marriage of form and function can serve a variety of uses. The fact that they are stackable makes them an easy and convenient option for extra seating. You can save space by stacking them when they're not in use. Alvar Aalto's 60 stool also makes a beautiful side table or stand.
Photography by Estefania Grigio
Stool 60 and Chair 65 available via The Empty Apartment
If I was a magazine I'd have to be a double issue right now. The months of May & June were just one giant international design fest on my calendar. From NYCxDesign which caught me visiting the city a few times to catch some of the spread out events of TEFAF, ICFF & Sight Unseen Offsite to 3 Days of Design in Copenhagen and I tied in that trip with picking up some inventory in Helsinki.
Working and traveling is my specialty so let's also tie in the couple amazing interior decorating/ editing projects I'm currently working on. The search for the perfect collection of items is really what I live for so it makes sense to always be on the lookout for ideal pieces for my clients.
So where do I start? I could possibly write a whole volume if I focused on every amazing new designer, furniture launch or exhibition I saw. If you really want to see all the vintage finds and new discoveries I make follow along on Instagram @the_empty_apartment or on Facebook to get more design news and information on young designers and projects happening. Here, I'll mention a few design launches that personally moved me for reasons being that the end goal of design should be to improve or inspire us to be happier, live better and cherish more our personal space. So here we go:
I'm going to mention again the collection by Studio Snng only because I found the design quite impactful and the designer, Shengning Zhang, was so eloquent in explaining the inspirations behind his creation. Getting designers to talk about the thought process behind creating a piece and the inspirations seem hard to come by these days. Most designers are creating with cost effectiveness and manufacturing processes in mind before actual functionality or purpose. The Boro wall display is a modular system that can easily grow by adding on additional pieces. The same unit piece can be a hanging rack or flipped over to be a shelf. The Wedge Shelf is also modular and can be added on horizontally or vertically. It does not require screws or additional hardware, the piece is held together by wooden pieces that lock into place like a puzzle. The Miro table has a center compartment hidden under a simple wooden slab that serves for storage. Check out www.studiosnng.com for more collection pieces and projects.
TEFAF (The European Fine Art Fair) is a game changer for the landscape of design fairs in NYC. The quality of the exhibitors and condition of vintage pieces is unparallel. The fair which establishes itself as a bi-annual show in the city of New York is originally from Maastricht, Netherlands and has been running since 1988. The Spring edition of the fair in NYC focuses on artifacts from the 1920s to the present and featured many galleries that would have otherwise participated at Collective Design, another collectible design fair exhibiting later the same month. TEFAF also turned out to be somewhat of a competition for Frieze Art Fair. Even though contemporary art and design are complementary markets it seems the terrible rains in NYC in May made for fewer people to visit Frieze on Randall Island and the Park Armory became attractive entertainment for a rainy day, not to mention Frieze closing a whole day due to the rains- but that's event gossip. Even if you are not on the acquisitions committee for a museum, TEFAF is worth the visit for sheer admiration. These dealers are leaders in their field and visiting them is an opportunity to gain some historical design knowledge. Learn more about TEFAF here
The 1.41 Flax Chair comes as a collaboration between designer Christien Meindertsma & Enkev for Label/Breed. Meindertsma graduated from Design Academy in Eindhoven in 2003, she has been studying the production life of flax as a material from which linseed oil, linen, and rope have their origins. Enkev is the leading processor of natural fibers since 1982 in The Netherlands. Together they have created a heat-pressed chair that combines the natural fibers of wool and flax with strong bio-plastic fibers. The material is quite unique, aesthetically it's simple, and beautiful in its honesty. This chair won the Dutch Design Award in 2016 and has been purchased by the Vitra Design Museum. It is not yet available on the market but we can only hope these will be the next mass produced chair for its little environmental impact. Per-ordering is available here
Lindsey Adelman's studio space was exciting to see on the list of exhibitions to visit during NYCxDesign. The exhibition was not only light fixtures by Adelman but also fixtures by Adelman's studio design director Karl Zhan and Australian designer Mary Wallis. On the floor a landscape of cushions by the textile company Print All Over Me. Lindsey Adelman was one of the many female designers whose work were featured during NYCxDesign. Group exhibitions of all women designers were rightfully recognized by the press. I'm highlighting Lindsey Adelman here because I believe she has come the farthest in terms of market recognition and yet her work is still not mass produced or enjoyed in a larger public scale. Perhaps this is not what Adelman wants for her work, I am unaware of her intentions but I think it would be interesting to see more design that was designed by women in public and commercial spaces as part of our every day in the U.S.. The example that comes to mind is when you arrive at the Copenhagen train station and the chairs used at McDonald's are the Trinidad chair by Nanna Ditzel designed in 1993. I believe this is when you know equality runs deep. Of course, it needs to make sense design wise, but one can only hope this is where we are headed. On that note...
I recently read the book Now I Sit Me Down, from Klismos to Plastic Chair: A Natural History by Witold Rybczynski. The book was a very entertaining history of the chair and highlighted the chair as the design piece that truly reflects not only aesthetic taste in a society but also socioeconomic status, and cultural beliefs. A number of anthropological studies can be made through a single chair. The exhibition The Danish Chair, an International Affair reminded me very much of this book in format. The exhibition focuses not solely on what Danish design is but how Danish designers applied their perspectives on designs of historical chairs such as the Windsor chairs, the folding chair and stool, the Shaker chair, and many others. The collection in the exhibition of interpretations by classic Danish designers is a beautiful account of the focus on materiality and quality in production. It's not about reinventing the wheel but making it better and even striving for perfection.
Of all the design talks I went to during 3 Days of Design in Copenhagen I found the Frama Studio Apartment talk with founder Niels Strøyer Christophersen to be the most organic and sincere. Not speaking about industrial production restraints or manufacturer/designer relationships like other Danish brands, Niels Strøyer Christophersen focused on the experience of finding a space and experimenting with materials and the history of the building during the remodeling process of the apartment. He retrofitted the building to his needs and created products that were not available on the market that satisfied with purpose and aesthetic. While he admits he is not a designer his aesthetic vision and focus has launched a brand that revolves around a concept and lifestyle. There is a deep respect for historic architecture and Danish design history in the Frama brand and I find this very refreshing. So many of the products on the market are void of ideas or essence and too manufactured lacking craftmanship. It's important for a younger generation to be looking back in history in order to find and exalt ideas in new products. For more on Frama click here
Another inspiring living space was the home of architect and designer Alvar Aalto in Helsinki, Finland. You can buy a single ticket to visit both his home and studio which are walking distance from each other. I highly recommend this if you travel to Helsinki. Homes to me are the most personal of all spaces so I'm just going to mention Aalto's home for now. The outside is very nondescript from the main street and upon entry, you are immediately forced to select an entry way into the living room, the kitchen hall, the staircase leading upstairs or the now reception area of the museum which previously was the entryway to the office spaces. Aalto initiated his design firm in his home and also entertained many guests, so these areas in his home are well segmented. Throughout Aalto's home and in his designs you can feel that he is vigorously looking forward to creating a Modern life. His designs from the 1930s and 40s are deeply rooted in a spirit of innovation. Aalto was interested and inspired by nature/ natural light, Modern Art and reinventing an already existing technology such as bentwood to produce more efficient and long lasting designs. The personally collected items also reflect much of his interests and inspirations. A passion for Japanese culture showcased in the Japanese paper weaving ottoman and tatami mats used as wall coverings. Collected art gifted by friends and books on Italy and the Mediterranean contribute to creating the portrait of this influential designer.
Finding the right vintage pieces can certainly be a process depending on how much of a collectible you'd like to find. The condition, rarity, and history are all contributing factors. Even if a particular piece is still in production, there can be slight production variations throughout the years that can make the same item unique and more valuable among others of the same kind. At whatever level you'd like to purchase vintage furniture what's important is starting with an appreciation for a piece that has a history and purchase designs that you find interesting and inspiring. While building your collection whether it be contemporary or vintage design pieces, your home should tell the story of who you are, your ideas and influences. Create the space you need and as unique as you are.
My first in-person encounter with Josef Frank's work was only last year, during a trip to Stockholm. I had previously seen a small number of his textile designs in print, enough to be able to recognize the iconic patterns and use of color but wasn't too familiar with the story behind the Austrian/Swedish designer's work.
A Norwegian interior designer friend of mine had told me not to miss a visit to Svenskt Tenn upon my visit to Stockholm. I had no idea what she was talking about and googled the home decor store to immediately recognize the lively fabrics. Upon further research, I also learned about the Millesgarden in Stockholm and their permanent display of Josef Frank's work in the so called Anne's House, on the lower terrace. Another site of interest to visit.
The so-called Anti-Design Designer's story is an interesting one. His work touches on classical influences from the Greek and Romans, Egyptian wall coverings and Southern Italian folk art. Josef Frank is most popular as a Swedish textile designer who was originally Austrian, later nationalized Swedish. He immigrated to Sweden before WWII, as an adult with his wife. His career began as an architect, however once he began working for Svenskt Tenn he dedicated his creative forces to furniture and textiles, abandoning architecture. A Modernist who's work isn't easy to classify, it stands out when grouped with his contemporaries.
His philosophy is one of comfortable, practical and uplifting design. A home should not be a work of art to be remained intact, but a flexible place where one lives. The style of his furniture is traditional with a focus on accents such as upholstery, decorative cushions, and throws. Although his popular textiles date between the 1930s to the 1940s his work feels contemporary still, due to his pluralist and not exclusive approach to design. Timeless is the design that can blend into any interior setting.
This Exotic Butterfly print fabric is a special reproduction from an original drawing by Josef Frank produced by Schumacher 1889. The pattern is signature Frank style whimsical and welcoming. This lounge chair is a vintage refurbish by The Empty Apartment and one of a kind. Available now to collect here.
Every year Pantone descends on the interior decorating and design world with a single color selected in December for the following year. As a leader in the Color Industry, Pantone follows the trends and makes a selection based on the forecast and general mood. 2017s color of the year is called Greenery a color that reflects optimism, growth and revival. One can only hope this general mood is accurate.
Greenery is a bit of a lighter and vibrant green, however the color Green in general for design can be a subtle and relaxing addition to any room. Tones such as forest green, moss green and olive green can be great neutrals that blends into any interior setting. Living with house plants adds natural green to any room, not to mention oxygen. The tropical climate of South Florida is prone to celebrate greenery, but also if you live in a wintry city a dark moss green can be a cozy comfort from the cold whiteness outside. Pantone color of the year or not, Greenery and greens in general make for a great color choice to use for years to come. Classic and timeless, highly recommended.
From The Empty Apartment Collection here are some great vintage options that can be added to any living collection: The Danish Chair upholstered in a Japanese natural motif of lotus and cranes, a Wingback Chair in olive green velvet and a classic Art Deco club chair in a moss green corduroy. To compliment in natural tones the Ingemar Tillmark Armchair in distressed leather and teak adds a great mix to the materials and pairs nicely with any vintage or contemporary match.
I personally have been obsessed with Japanese aesthetics since I can remember. When I was in college I remember learning about the Asian influence in European visual arts and how popular the "exotic" themes became at the turn of the century. I loved the outfitting of French ladies in Japanese clothing with stylized artifacts to recreate a setting. My Impressionist Art professor Willy Montero would say the significant influence of the Uu-key-yo-e is essential to understanding the whole period. The Ukiyo-e also known as the Japanese wood block, pretty much circulated as a post card of Japanese imagery. Artists such as James McNeill Whistler to Vincent Van Gogh to Edward Manet had all seen and studied Japanese aesthetic through such memorabilia.
In studying design it's interesting to see here too the strength of Japanese influence. French designer and architect Charlotte Perriand was very inspired by Japanese proportions and the use of the tatami mat as a standard measure, Charles and Ray Eames were influenced with their low living lifestyle series of chairs and tables. Anyways, I digress to reach the point that in many cultures around the world, Japanese aesthetics, have been extremely influential. This influence has resonated particularly in my other aesthetic favorite: Scandinavian design.
I always thought I simply enjoyed both Japanese and Scandinavian design just the same due to their clean line, use of natural materials, mute color tones and inspiration in nature. It's so much more than that and dates even further back than mid twentieth century design. The exhibition Japanomania finally sheds lots of light on a whole era of Japanese influence in the Nordic countries. The survey of art and artifacts carefully depicts inspirations in the fields of painting, textile, ceramics and furniture dating from 1875 to 1918. An era that developed right after the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1867 from which Japonisme began to spread. It is said that there has been no other influence in European visual arts that is as encompassing nor as long lasting as Japonisme.
The exhibition was co-curated by the Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki and the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo. It will also travel to Copenhagen in 2017. It's quite shocking to know that never before had these influences been researched beyond the individual artist cases. The exhibition is an impressive overall picture of the times. It's such a privilege for this traveling exhibition to be available for the Nords. For those who can't see the show personally, the exhibition catalog in English contains images on all the contents of the show and more so. It is available through Yale University Press and I highly recommend for any design obsessed.
Fuglen is not only a super cool coffee shop/cocktail bar with yummy drinks and the perfect chai latte but also a great venue to learn about Norwegian design. Their venue is furnished with great mid century pieces and decorated with ceramics and time period collectibles on shelves. Next door they have a showroom with vintage homeware pieces to purchase, all by Norwegian and Scandinavian designers.
Dedicated to the research and promotion of design, in 2013 Fuglen joined forces with Norwegian auction house Blomqvist to exhibit the most significant designers in Norwegian history. The Nordic Icons exhibition went on tour to Tokyo and New York City. If you missed it, a beautiful catalog was put together to document the collection. The catalog is still available online through Fuglen or the auction house and is a great addition to any design lover's library.
All of the pieces in the Nordic Icon exhibition were available for sale. Many of them can still be found through Fuglen or at auction at Blomqvist. There has been a growing interest in collecting Norwegian design as it stands apart from its Swedish and Danish neighbors. The more intricate designs especially are reaching a nice price on the market. A younger generation of designers are also looking back on their Norwegian roots to create contemporary design.
With an outpost in the trendy neighborhood of Shibuya in Tokyo since 2012, Fuglen has well established a growing international appreciation not only for Nordic and Scandinavian design but also quality beverages.
Many thanks to Monica for the recommendation and William for the drinks!